Urgently need advice!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by janebrain, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    Hi All,
    hoping you guys can advise me about our neighbor girl, age 16. She has been coming over here to talk to my 17 yr old dtr at night. She says she is being beaten my her parents and they don't feed her, etc. She and her younger sister were adopted by the parents when she was 5. She says they threaten to dissolve the adoption, and they are verbally abusive to her.

    In the summer we have often heard the parents yelling at the kids (not so much this summer) on a regular basis so I don't doubt there is at least verbal abuse.

    My dtr has asked the girl, M, if she wants to talk to my husband and me. She has said no but she does want my dtr to report it anonymously. She says they aren't giving her her medications and that they don't allow her to see her therapist anymore.

    I wish I knew more background and if what M is saying is all the truth, just don't know.
    Any advice?!

  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Gosh, that's a toughie.
    Maybe your daughter could spend a bit of time at their house, keeping her ears open?
    Does this girl have bruises?
    Does she say why the parents are like this, IOW, do they have $ issues, they just don't like her personality, etc.?
    Has she thought about getting a pt job? She's old enough. That would give her independence, plus show that she is pulling her own wt, so maybe the parents will lay off a bit.
    What a load for your daughter to carry.
    So sorry.
  3. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    If there is no truth to this, the girl is still heading into troubled water. She may be angry at the parents and believe this will get back at them for whatever.

    If there is truth, this girl is already in trouble.

    Has she shown your daughter any proof of beatings? Bruises? Does she eat while at your home?

    Reporting is a very big responsibility for a 16 yr old. Your daughter can encourage the girl to call her therapist directly to ask for advise. The girl can also contact a domestic violence support line for advise.

    Is there anyone you can call who would know this family better?

    If you do decide to report it - I wouldn't feel guilty about falsehoods because she needs help in some area and Social Services would rather get a false tip than miss a real case.

    Let us know how it goes.
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Yes, I would not report it immediately. You need more info. It's a dbl edged sword.
  5. house of cards

    house of cards New Member

    What a tough spot to be in, good luck with whatever you decide. I would probably just keep an ear and eyes out for awhile to get more info.
  6. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    my dtr did see a big bruise on her leg last night. M says her parents have disconnected the phone, only use cell phones. She is not being allowed to see her therapist or take her medications. She did have a part-time job but got fired (says a friend got her fired) and says her parents took her paychecks. She says her parents love her younger sister (she was a baby when they were adopted) but threaten to dissolve her adoption too if she turns out like M.

    I think the family has been investigated before (we have seen police cars over there) and I'm not sure what has happened.

    My own dtr has issues she is working on in therapy so I don't want her being burdened with all this. M is sneaking out of the house to come here at night to try to get help. I guess I should make the anonymous call to CPS and let them handle it. I have also called my dtr's therapist to get his advice but probably won't hear back til Monday.

    My dtr did give M food while she was here....

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Better to be safe than sorry. If it's the bluff, they can figure it out. I wouldn't have daughter call CPS. I would, anonymously. At the very least, this child is crying out for help and CPS can offer services.
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I did a LOT of reading on when/why to call CPS a few years ago.

    Everything I read said that if you have serious questions about abuse of a child or elderly person, then you should report.

    You can report anonymously, and if it is a neighbor I highly recommend this.

    The literature I saw said that it is CPS' job to figure out if abuse is really happening. It is CPS job to figure out if a bruise and a child who tells you she is being abused all add up to abuse. It is NOT YOUR JOB to verify if the child is being honest. NOT AT ALL.

    Now, we all know that CPS workers vary widely. Very widely! Some are excellent and amazing, some have no contact with reality, and some don't give a horse's patootie about what is going on.

    That is also NOT your issue to work out.

    What do we tell children starting in early elementary school? If you are being hurt or abused, tell someone. Tell someone. I am sorry she is telling your daughter. You have to figure out if your daughter is embellishing, but you do NOT have to figure out what is going on in that house.

    And you will be much safer, as a rule, if you do NOT try to figure out what is going on at that house. Let the docs and social workers do that.
  9. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    If you do make this call and your daughter knows you called, stress to her that under NO condition is she to let M know that you did call. If M asks your daughter, she can truthfully say she did not call.

    I would tell your daughter that for her sake, you can not tell her if you did or did not call so she can truthfully tell M, "I talked to my mom about this but I don't know if she made a call or not."
  10. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have to say that I disagree with some of the other posters. This is just me, but I would actually question the girl myself. Let your daughter know ahead of time that you are going to do this. Tell her that the accusations are serious enough for the authorities to be called. However, before that is done, you want to address it with her yourself.

    Just because the parents are yelling doesn't mean there is abuse. Why is this girl taking medications? What are her issues? Have you noticed that she and her sister are loosing weight or are unusually thin?

    I would let this girl kow that she can speak to you in confidence about her worries. That you didn't believe it was really fair for her to burden your daughter with these issues (where she has to make an adult choice and take adult action) but you are more than happy to listen and take action if necessary.

    That's just my gut. This girl could be a difficult child who is fabricating or she and her sister could really be in need. I think looking in the eyes of this girl will help you find the answer.

  11. mom_to_3

    mom_to_3 Active Member

    I would probably go ahead and call CPS and make an anonymous report. That said, my difficult child was your friends daughter and made false claims to anyone and everyone. Outside adults did believe her and were angry with us! It was very uncomfortable for us and left hard feelings. But just to be safe, go ahead and call. I would not tell the girl you called either.
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I would run like the wind from this. Only because more often than not, 17 year old girls want their own apartment rather than need rescuing from their parents, and if they are fighting, you don't know why or who started it. If she needs help, tell her to talk to her doctor, religious mentor, or school therapist. She'll be moving out one way or another in a few months. You have to live next to these people. What exactly will your life be like if you find out she has been yanking your chain because she's tired of living with Mom and Dad's rules?

    Flee! Run away!
  13. tonime

    tonime toni

    Ok- this is a tricky situation-but I think you should report it. I am a teacher and if a student told me this I would be REQUIRED to report it--family services job is to figure it out. When you report it, tell it just the way you did here--that you are not sure- and these are the facts as they are- look there is some sort of trouble over there -- even if the girl is lying-- that is an issue in itself. You are not calling in police to lock the parents up- you are calling a service that is there to help families in crisis
  14. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    Hi All,
    Witz, the girl just turned 16 so she has 2 more years with parents. Also, she has mentioned abuse to my dtr for several years (I just didn't know). I would love to run like the wind but I actually think there is probably at least some truth to her story. My husband and I have been made very uncomfortable at times because of the extreme yelling over there. I mean I can yell when I lose it but for awhile it seemed that every day we heard one or other of the parents yelling at the kids and it was for very insignificant stuff from our point of view. I know at those times I wondered if I should be reporting them but wasn't sure what to do.

    So, here is what we've decided to do. M will probably come over here tonight and my husband and I will talk to her and see if she wants us to make an anonymous call. I will also see if there is any other adult she could tell. School doesn't start til after Labor Day so that is a long time from now.

    They seem very isolated over there--never see anyone visiting them, they keep to themselves (of course I think you could say that about me too). I don't know, my gut just says something is not right and I think the parents are part of the problem. I wonder if they had no clue what they were in for when they adopted the two girls--M was 5--apparently she was taken from her mother and stepfather (dad to the other girl) because stepfather was beating her. I'm sure these 2 girls came to them with many problems, maybe too many to handle it if they weren't prepared. I don't know, just a theory....

    Anyway, my dtr was just invited today to go to Vermont to see her best friend for several days so she will be leaving town on Monday. What good timing for her--she has been really upset by all this and feels responsible--like she should be doing something. Her therapist is working with her on processing memories--she is supposed to be focusing on therapy, not on another girl who has problems. I will be talking to him about this. He has said over and over to me that she needs to feel safe and stable in order to do the work of therapy. With her older sister gone we have been able to provide that, she doesn't need this.

    Thanks so much for all the replies--please feel free to send more advice. I am reading them all and you all have excellent points--no one right answer for sure! Also, my other dtr was good at making others feel sorry for her--like she had parents who didn't care so I am very aware of that as a possibility!

  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    GREAT timing for your daughter!
    I've got my fingers crossed for you. I hope you can figure out the truth and facts.
    Best of luck. Keep us posted.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I hate CPS, but I'd still call them. If you assume the girl is lying, or think it's not so bad, and she ends up dead or in the hospital, how bad will you feel? I would rather err on the side of caution. CPS's job is to figure out what is going on. I agree that excessive screaming at the child is a red flag. Isolated families also have a higher rate of abuse. I just would not walk away from the girl. I wouldn't even talk to her about the abuse. She may shut down once you talk to her or retract it because she's afraid you're going to tell her parents, who are abusive. I'd call CPS and let them do their job--to determine whether or not abuse is going on. Just because she is taking medications doesn't mean she isn't being abused.
    Let your conscience guide you with this one. Good luck and glad your daughter won't be around for the fallout. At the very least, this family will be closely watched.
  17. OpenWindow

    OpenWindow Active Member

    I think it's a good idea to try and talk to her first but either way, I'd call CPS and let them know what you've heard. We're right in the middle of a CPS investigation that we'd rather not be involved in, but still I'd call.
  18. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Jane, I think your plan is a good one. You need to take the load off your daughter's shoulders and dump at least some of it back on this girl. SHE must be prepared to make a call on this and not leave it to someone else to "fix it" for her. Part of her making the call is to formally tell an adult (instead of just dumping on an equally powerless ie under-age friend and to kick around and decide, "Do I want you to call, or not?"

    It's part of taking personal responsibility. It is hard to do. But the upside of it (tell her this) is that IF she is telling the truth about this, then DOING something active will immediately reduce her stress levels from this. And even asking another adult to take action on her behalf, is doing something.

    But the load shouldn't be dumped onto another child. Not fair to the other child.

    I also have worried as to whether this could just be a difficult child telling only her side of the story, or embellishing it just a bit too much. If this has been talked about for the past two years then the friend might simply have been venting as usual, but your soft-hearted daughter takes it to heart maybe more than friend expected. If friend was angry at her parents then a spur of the moment rage could have been misinterpreted by your daughter.

    I've got into trouble doing this before, so this time I emphasise - when I say I'm being "Devil's Advocate", I AM NOT saying, "This is what I believe". I am merely explaining how there is a POSSIBLE alternative explanation. That may be far-fetched, or highly likely. I don't know. I'm not there.
    So here goes with the Devil's Advocate point of view - what if this is a difficult child who has been a real handful to her parents? What if the yelling that you hear has been instigated by her yelling at her parents. And even good parents yell back sometimes (however much we remind each other, we shouldn't yell because it achieves nothing). What if what she has been saying to your daughter is exaggeration? What if she didn't really intend your daughter to make a formal complaint on her behalf (or expected CPS to not take it seriously, coming form a child - or to not act against a child making a false complaint)?

    If this is the case, then when you question her she could well either get angry, or backpedal fast. Angry is highly likely, and could indicate things have got out of her control more than she expected. If she gets angry a lot of it will be directed towards your daughter, for 'talking' to you. But your daughter did the right thing - telling an adult she trusts (ie parent) is a very sensible first step towards making a complaint on behalf of her friend. If her friend is angry with her for this, that is a good thing. Maybe she will learn to not make such serious statements frivolously. And if she cuts herself out of your lives - good. It won't happen if she told the truth.

    But what if the girl is telling the truth? She may still be a bit startled by your questioning because she has been conditioned to believe parent figures to be untrustworthy and dangerous. She might downplay the severity of the problem. Here is where your radar for lies needs to be switched on to overdrive.

    Third scenario (still Devil's Advocate) - what if there is SOME truth to what she's saying, but not enough to justify a complaint?
    Example - she says her parents always took her wages. Some parents do this. Or maybe they took her pay packet from her (partly to double-check that she had been paid, and also that she hadn't then gone on a silly spending spree), removed some money for board and then either given her back the rest or put it in a bank account in her name? Also bear in mind - in some families, the habit of taking all the children's earnings (and often that of other workers in the household) is common practice. It's a cultural thing where everybody is expected to contribute to the utmost to the benefit of the family as a unit. I don't like it, but in some cultures this is seen as usual.

    This girl has lost a job. She claims a friend lost her job for her. How could a friend lose a job? Did something like this really happen, or is this girl refusing to accept personal responsibility and looking to find ways to always place blame on others?

    The girl is sneaking out at night to visit your daughter. What would you think if your difficult child was sneaking out at night to see this girl (or someone else)? And what else is she likely to be doing when she sneaks out?

    And one BIG final question - I could be misunderstanding because of cultural/social differences between Australia and the US here, but - IF this girl has abusive parents who should be reported, and who are so abusive that she is scared to report them herself, then why doesn't she just run away? Or go and report this to a teacher? A priest? Anybody? Especially an adult? (I know someone else has raised this) Because if she can sneak out at night to visit your daughter, then she can sneak out and plan an escape just as readily.

    Picture this - "I'm a prisoner at home. I have no money of my own - my parents took it all. I'm not allowed to make phone calls so I can't report this myself. I'm not allowed to go anywhere with friends, I get beaten and yelled at all the time. I'm a prisoner, they have me on a tight leash."
    But where and when is she saying this? in YOUR home, a potential sanctuary. If she can sneak out to your home, she can sneak out to the police station.

    So talk to her by all means, but watch closely and carefully. And reassure your daughter - she did the right thing in telling you. Any bad consequences from here are NOT your daughter's fault. She needs to know this.

    You need to report this, if only because there is (in my opinion) reasonable doubt. But be prepared for the claims to be false. Or true. Or half-true.

    I had a friend and neighbour (when I was 15/16) whose father kept her on a very tight leash. She wasn't permitted to have a boyfriend, not even as a pen-pal. When she met a boy at her friend's house she was banned from visiting ANY friends. The restrictions were extreme. And I knew why but could do nothing to help her - I knew her father was a pedophile, because he'd molested me (I stopped visiting her because I was afraid of him). She did not know he had attacked me, I never told her. With hindsight maybe I should have - but what good would it have done? She probably would have called me a liar.

    The situations young girls can be in are sometimes far too complex for them to handle. Life is just not fair sometimes.

  19. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    Hi All,
    here's the update: Marg, I think your scenario #3 is maybe close to the truth. M came over last night and my difficult child 2 told her she could talk with us--she seemed reluctant but I went to her and told her we had heard about what was going on.

    So, as we talked I felt there were some red flags--that there are gaping holes in the story. She mentioned that "they" think she has borderline personality disorder but she thinks her mom is the one who has it. I don't know if she does have it but she has traits--she reminded me somewhat of my difficult child 1 who had Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) traits. She said she sees the social worker at school, she was seeing a therapist before but she "took her side" so her mom wouldn't let her go anymore. She says she takes risperdal but her mom won't give it to her.

    She says she is afraid she will be taken away but doesn't want to leave her sister with them (sister is 11). She is okay with me calling CPS anonymously. I told her I was going to talk to some people and get advice. She said other neighbors have asked her if she is okay after hearing the parents yelling.

    I do know that the parents yell and it isn't instigated by her yelling first. A few years ago they were putting a pool in their backyard and the 2 little girls were helping. My husband says they treated the girls like slaves and my husband is very very slow to say anything like that. He remembers the dad shouting orders continuously and now I remember it too. It would go like this: Bring that board here, why are you so slow? Why are you standing over there, bring me the hammer. Don't do it that way, etc. It is hard to convey how it sounded on paper--he was literally shouting and often swearing at them. They were only about 12 and 8 at the time. They didn't make a peep, just looked like they were frightened and trying to obey his orders and could never get it quite right.

    So, anyway, I told M she could stay for 15 minutes with my dtr. 15 minutes passed and my dtr came up and asked for half an hour more, that they were in the middle of something important. I agreed but when half an hour went by I checked on them and M was on the phone and was not looking like she had any intention of leaving. I gave them 5 more minutes and then I went down and said I was very uncomfortable with this situation, that M was taking advantage. She got angry and left.

    Then difficult child 2 and I sat and talked a long time. I told her I thought M was somewhat like difficult child 1, and she was not respecting boundaries. difficult child 2 told me that she was beginning to feel used, things didn't feel right to her--wasn't like with her other friends. She felt that she could be anyone, that it didn't matter to M who she was, she was someone to go to. She didn't know how to tell M any of this and I told her she doesn't have to, it is my job to protect her and M won't be coming over anymore to dump on difficult child 2.

    My best sense of this whole thing is that the parents are lousy parents who didn't know what they were getting themselves into. M says they took a parenting class but they didn't like the other people in the class. I think they should not have had children in the first place. Second, I think M has mental health problems and needs way more help than she is getting. I think her parents are ill equipped to deal with her. Even the best of parents would find her very challenging--she has deep seated problems and she has learned to manipulate others to get what she needs. I feel sorry for her because I think she is coping the best way she knows how. I know we can't help her really except to bring it to the professionals' attention. And after dealing with my difficult child 1 I absolutely do not want to get involved in this girl's life. And, this type of girl is the last person difficult child 2 needs to be trying to help. She was really having PSTD type stuff last night and having trouble differentiating M from difficult child 1.

    Okay, guess that's it-thanks for making it this far, sorry it was so long. Wish I was a better writer, feel like I didn't explain things so well.

    I will be talking to difficult child 2's therapist tomorrow and will do whatever he thinks I should do.

  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I think you have learned a LOT and are making very wise choices. It is great that your daughter was able to talk with you about how this girl makes her feel. does your daughter know who the neighbor child was talking to?

    It really sound slike not all the mental problems are in the daughter, esp with how they treated the kids while making the pool. And not wanting to do what you learn in a class on parenting because it hasn't worked is a FAR cry from not trying because you don't like the other people there!

    Distancing your family from this family is good. I think an anonymous call is probably warranted, simply because it is CPS job to figure out what the truth is.

    I am so very sorry your daughter is having PTSD problems from this. Will the 2 girls be in school or on a bus together? I hope not. Glad your daughter has a therapist to help her deal with all of this.

    Just curious, does difficult child 2 think an anonymous call would be good, or does she think it is just too much to handle (for her) or does she feel the call is a bad idea?

    Whatever happens, DON'T GIVE YOUR NAME OR LOCATION OR ADDRESS. If at all possible, use a cell phone - someone else's? I did see a pay as you go phone for under $20 at walmart this week. I would use this, simply because I know how they push for your phone # and other info on YOU as you make the call. been there done that. Most liekly CPS has no resources to track down who you are, but you DO have to live next door to these people.